A Sweat What?

Written by Chris Watson, WLLC 2015-2016

Though out this year, we have had many interesting topics and practices introduced to us. During the week that we practiced meditation, there was a reading about Native American healing methods. As a preface my medical file at my pediatrician had its own cabinet because I have various medical conditions. Throughout my life I have lived on cocktails of medication, from generic to prescription, homemade, and everywhere in between. My experience during meditation was eye opening, meditating once a day helped me feel mentally clear and ready for each day but, I had no idea that there could be medical applications to a practice like that. Reading about powwows and what happens at them, the process of smudging is what I believe to be a clash of medication and non-medical activity. Christopher Rybak & Amanda Decker-Fitts describe smudging as “a means of purification, often through passing the smoke of burning cedar, sage, or sweetgrass over individuals, including healers and those seeking healing, and throughout spaces” (Rybak & Decker-Fitts 337). They continue to describe Native American healing methods by describing the sweat lodge. In modern culture the equivalent of the sweat lodge would be the sauna. Differing from the sauna we know today, the sweat lodge was part of a ceremony where hot stones would be brought in and herbs placed on them to produce pleasant aromas. In a study done by Schiff & Moore, they found people who participated in a sweat lodge felt “an increase in the level of participant emotional and spiritual wellbeing as a result of their experience of the sweat lodge.” (Rybak & Decker-Fitts 338) By learning of these two methods of healing not by medication I have opened my eyes to the possibilities that modern medication and methods of healing are not the only viable way to heal.




Christopher Rybak & Amanda Decker-Fitts (2009) Understanding

Native American healing practices, Counselling Psychology Quarterly, 22:3, 333-342,


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